Fact Check: McCain, Obama Charges and Countercharges

This charge started with a speech Obama gave on Aug. 1, 2007, called "The War We Need To Win," in which he said: "I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will."

Computers

When asked what he would do to make Congress move quickly to address the environment, Obama said, "This is one of the biggest challenges of our time, and it's absolutely critical we understand it's not a challenge, it's an opportunity ... we can do it but we're gonna have to make an investment. The same way the computer was invented by a bunch of government scientists." Were computers invented by the government?

FALSE: The Mark I, widely considered to be the first digital computer, was developed by Harvard scientist Howard Aiken working in conjunction with IBM from 1939 to 1944.

A year later came the final assembly of the ENIAC, a computer developed by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania who were under contract with the U.S. Army in order to more rapidly compute firing and bombing tables.

Lebanon

McCain said, "In Lebanon, I stood up to President Reagan, my hero, and said if we send Marines in there, how can we possibly beneficially affect the situation, and said we shouldn't. Unfortunately, almost 300 brave young Marines were killed."

FALSE: This is an issue that came up in the first presidential debate, as well. And in both cases, McCain exaggerates his position. Marines were already in Lebanon when McCain arrived on Capitol Hill in 1983, and his vote was to prevent invoking the War Powers Act to extend the Marines already deployed. McCain did vote against that, but as he did in the first debate, McCain is wrong to imply that he opposed sending the Marines to Lebanon.

Town Meeting?

Perhaps the biggest exagerration of the night came from the debate organizers, who called the format a "town meeting." Of the 21 questions asked during the 90-minute debate, nine came from moderator Tom Brokaw, eight from the live audience in the hall and four from Internet users.

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